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The cooking Journal

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Baking Conversion Chart
When cooking a recipe from an American cook book, or following a recipe from an American website, you’ll need a cups to grams converter, as the weights and measures used vary quite a bit from the metric measurements we use in the UK. We've put together a handy cheat sheet to print out and put on your fridge!
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St. Patrick's Day Menu
St. Patrick's Day is the perfect excuse to celebrate Irish food and have a little fun on a weekday evening now that we can’t visit the pub! We've curated a menu of hearty and flavoursome recipes to warm the cockles of your heart, which are sure to leave you pleasantly satisfied and put a smile on your face.
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March Seasonal Ingredients

Seasonal Ingredients...


Spring brings us an abundance of vegetables, with tender stems and delicate flavours.  Some of the vegetables have a very short season so it is worth making the most of them.

Purple sprouting broccoli is available at this time of year, and if you’re a gardener it will be gracing your vegetable patch.  It is rather like asparagus with tender stems that should snap, the delicate florets having a dark purple colour.  It should be eaten as fresh as possible otherwise it tends to become a tough.

It is full of vitamin C and a good source of iron, folic acid, calcium and Vitamin A.  Purple sprouting broccoli was initially cultivated by the Romans, so you will see a number of Italian dishes including it.  It has been grown in the UK since the 18th Century.

It can be used in a variety of dishes – boiled or steamed it can be a simple side dish; add it to a stir-fry with some chilli, add it to pasta, or eat it with Hollandaise sauce as an indulgent treat.

Mackerel is also available at this time of year - in abundance.  Mackerel is a beautiful shiny fish with grey and silver stripes.  Mackerel is an oily fish, and an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12.  It can give us some Vitamin D as well.

It has a delicate flesh which can be cooked in many ways and stays moist when cooked.  It can have a rich flavour once cooked, and doesn’t go well with creamy buttery sauces.  It is best simply grilled or pan fried.   It can be paired with sharp flavours such as rhubarb or gooseberry which cuts through the richness of the flavour.

Purple sprouting broccoli on the side of grilled mackerel is a delicious combination.
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Going Vegan for January?
Have you decided to try and be a vegan for January and joined the popular Veganuary movement?   There’s been a lot in the press about vegans and veganism, not least William Sitwell’s controversial comments last year about killing vegans.

Whatever your motivation, whether it’s to be a bit healthier or you’ve read/seen information about the meat trade or you’re worried about the impact on the environment made by producing food; it is a good idea to understand what you need to do to ensure you stay healthy and get the nutrients you need in your new diet.  As a vegan you are cutting out all foods and ingredients that are produced by animals – so you have to take out all dairy products, honey and eggs.  And if you’re going the whole hog then being a vegan can also extend to cutting out clothing, toiletries, cosmetics and other items that include animal products.

The proteins and nutrients essential to good health and well-being can be found in other sources. For example: protein is also found in beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and soya alternatives. Also a number of vegetables contain protein such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Omega 3 type vitamins can be found in seeds and nuts such as linseed, chia seeds and walnuts. Milk products can be replaced with soya, almond or oat milks and cream.  For more information visit the Vegan Society’s nutrition pages on their website.

If you have favourite dishes you think you can’t live without, try and find an alternative or adapt a recipe as far as possible to take out the animal products.  It can be expensive buying vegan products and there are many cheap ways of making substitutes.   For instance, did you know that aquafaba, the water from the can of beans or chickpeas, is an egg substitute and can make delicious chocolate mousse, pancake batter and even meringues.  If you don’t believe us, click here for our vegan chocolate mousse recipe!

Being vegan isn’t just for January and can be a lifestyle choice.  If you’d like to learn more about how to cook vegan food, The Cooking Academy’s Vegan class is scheduled for 23 January or 6 April click here to book a place.

The Vegan Society provides lots of information on becoming vegan.  www.vegansociety.com

#thecookingacademy #Veganuary #vegan #healthyingredients  #williamsitwell
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Can dinner determine your destiny?
There is no doubt that food can act as a natural medicine, your dinner can determine your destiny. Polyphenol-rich foods found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are a pharmacy to enhance your body’s "chemistry set", moving the needle away from inflammation and disease and toward healing and vitality. A long life free of illness can be found at the end of your fork.

To be honest we really don’t need to eat too much, simple plant based food can give us so much of what we require. Throw into that some great omega 3 ingredients, and food can be at its best.

Plant-based foods such as blueberries, acai berries, spinach and broccoli are so powerful because they are high in polyphenols. Polyphenols are a group of plant-based chemicals that have at least one phenol. One type of polyphenols is phenolic acids including red fruits, onions, coffee, cereals and spices.

Polyphenols improve your health in several ways including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

The second group is the flavonoids, including isoflavones found in soy, anthocyanidins in berries and wine, flavones in herbs, flavonols in broccoli, tomato and tea, flavanones in citrus fruits and juices, and flavan-3-ols in cocoa, tea and wine.

Finally, the famous ones don't fit into any class, including resveratrol and stilbenes from wine and nuts, curcumin in spices, and lignansP in linseeds.

The evidence for the benefits of foods rich in polyphenols comes from hundreds of studies. One example reported that a higher intake of polyphenols, particularly stilbenes from grapes and nuts and lignans from linseed, was associated with a longer lifespan.

In another study, healthier arteries were found in those who ate raw or al-dente vegetables and avoided dairy products. Consumption of fresh fruit, wine and avoidance of animal products was also associated with less inflammation. Intake of flavonoid-rich foods such as bran, apples, pears, grapefruit, strawberries, red wine and chocolate was associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

10 foods high in polyphenols are celery, dark chocolate, linseed, sage, rosemary, thyme, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and coffee.

Aim for 7-10 serving per day of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit per day for a healthier life!




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The Alchemy of Food

The Alchemy of Food by Kumud Gandhi.


Kumud Gandhi, the Food Alchemist - is the founder of The Cooking Academy, a unique cookery school that puts the beneficial properties of ingredients at the heart of everything we teach. We call it the ‘Alchemy of Food’.

 

Kumud Gandhi trained in food science, and her ethos is to combine the science of food, nutritional value and great taste to create wholesome, nutritional and delicious recipes. Her passion for bringing food and science together to create the ‘Alchemy of Food’ stems from her family heritage, where her mother’s family are chemists and her father’s ancestors were spice merchants.  And so as a child she grew up surrounded by what she calls ‘The Alchemy of food’.

 

Kumud has put much of her knowledge and understanding of spices into her bookA Cupboard Full of Spices which will be published in October.  The book is a go-to reference book for recipes as well as a beautiful cookery book including many favourite family recipes dating back through the generations.

 

The Alchemy of Food, teaching ethos at The Cooking Academy explores the chemical composition, Ayurvedic and herbal values of food so that recipes and eating plans can be matched to meet dietary requirements and individual lifestyles.

 

Heading up the Academy, Kumud and her team teach the health benefits of different herbs and spices used in all genre of food. For example if you suffer from indigestion or heart burn, try incorporating fennel, both fresh and fennel seed into your diet; or if you suffer from poor circulation then you should increase the use of chillies and in particular ginger in food; Ginger is in the ‘super food’ category packed with antioxidants, it is an anti-inflammatory, circulation stimulator, and an antiseptic. It is also hugely beneficial for the digestion of food.

 

food alchemy a cupboard full of spices kumud gandhi cookingfood the cooking academy kumud gandhi a cupboard full of spicesfood a cupboard full of spices alchemy kumud gandhi

So many common everyday ingredients can provide relief for existing conditions and working with these herbs and spices into your daily diet can actually prevent many common ailments and allergies.

 

For Kumud it is a realization that the kitchen cupboard promises to offer more effective solutions to our health problems than the medicine cabinet; after all, prevention is better than cure. Our objectives at The Cooking Academy are to make people aware of the nutritional value of simple, everyday ingredients, the effects it has in our bodies and how we can use them in food. Many of the everyday cupboard spices have excellent effects on these issues and they have been used by early ancestors and ancient civilizations – and yet forgotten in today’s world.


Kumud regularly runs master classes on the history of spices named ‘The Spice Trail’ which explores the origins of spices and their importance in the global trade around the world.  It charts the use of spices in modern medicines and in culinary use for good health.






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The value of recognising good work
It’s good to be recognised and rewarded, appreciation is a basic human need.  It’s something managers can do easily – whether it’s just saying “well done” or using a formal reward package.

Recognition isn’t all about bonuses and pay rises.  It has been identified that employees receiving sincere thanks is often more important than receiving something tangible.  Recognition helps employees feel valued and encouraged, their satisfaction, productivity, engagement and motivation goes up and as a result an employer is more likely to retain their staff.

My own experience of recognition has been varied across my career where some managers were great at encouraging teams and individuals.  And others where it was simply not something they did with the result, demotivated and disaffected staff.  Recognition is something I’ve always seen as good management practice and have tried to practise what I preach throughout my career.

The most memorable recognition I received… and therefore the most rewarding for both me and my employer… was following a successful client presentation. I was thanked publically by the department head and was offered a generous bonus in the form of store vouchers.  However, I asked whether I could book an “experience” rather than receiving a monetary reward.

The company agreed and I was booked on a week-long cookery course.  Not only was the course a really enjoyable time away from the office, I had the opportunity of learning new skills which I could apply back at work (and at home!).  I also met like-minded people, gained lots of inspiration, shared ideas and knowledge... as well as having a lot of fun.

I would say the value of that piece of recognition was immeasurable.  Yes, there was a monetary outlay by my employer in purchasing the course and letting me have time off.  However the value returned was increased for them, as I came back with new and transferrable skills, more motivated and highly engaged.

And the value for me personally, as someone who believes in life-long learning, was that I had learnt new skills that I still use today.  It gave me confidence and motivation in pursing my career and helping others pursue theirs in recognising their achievements.

It doesn’t cost a lot to say “well done”.

I'd love to hear your recognition stories.

 

The Cooking Academy offers cookery courses which can be used towards company learning and development schemes or reward and recognition programmes and we are happy to help you facilitate this.
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Cacao and Date Bliss Balls
These raw bliss balls are an excellent substitute for a sweet treat. Even without added sugar, they still pack a punch! The dates and almonds provide protein, whilst the chia seeds provide iron and omega 3. The cacao balls can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days – if you can resist eating them all in one go! Bliss, without the guilt! We hope you enjoy.

Ingredients:

175g pitted dates

140g ground almonds

35g cocoa powder

30g desiccated coconut

2 tbsp chia seeds

100g coconut oil

1tsp water

Chopped pistachios, desiccated coconut, cacao powder or anything else you would like to roll the balls in.

Method:

  1. Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes to soften

  2. Whilst the dates are softening, add the ground almonds, cocoa powder, coconut, chia seeds, and coconut oil to a blender and mix until smooth consistency,

  3. Add the dates and a teaspoon of water and mix again. Ensure all dates are blended and there are no chunks.

  4. Pinch the mixture to ensure it holds together, using a generous teaspoon at a time, roll into bite size balls.

  5. Roll the balls into a topping of your choice, we used chopped pistachios, desiccated coconut and cacao powder.

  6. Store in the fridge and enjoy.

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Sales and Marketing Assistant
We have an exciting opportunity to work here at The Cooking Academy! We are a unique and growing organisation who specialise in running cookery classes and corporate events teaching individuals how to cook in a creative and enjoyable way!  We are seeking to recruit a dynamic, high calibre Sales & Marketing Assistant to join our team.

Based in Rickmansworth, this role will work closely with the Managing Director to deliver the sales & marketing plan and deliver corporate events to the client base and develop new business opportunities.

The Sales and Marketing Assistant will be responsible for but not limited to;

  • Drive sales opportunities for cookery classes through the website and customer database.

  • Engage with customers and prospective buyers through all social media channels on a daily basis.

  • Use the customer database to increase sales through verticals marketing programmes.

  • Work with corporate sales on all events to provide event management administrative support.

  • Event manage client booked events in both consumer and corporate sales and manage the operational delivery of events, meet and greet clients, check in, front of house.

  • Manage pre and post event client administration, organising client requirements to ensure 100% accuracy of client and delegate information.

  • Find suitable venues and partners to hold cookery events.

  • Create post event videos and photos to share with clients and use in promotion material.

  • Organise staff for corporate events, manage timings and supply support information.

  • Develop ideas and create offers for highly targeted marketing campaigns focused on the corporate market for team building, hospitality and client relationship building events.

  • Attend customer events as required to ensure continuity of client relations.

  • Initiate and develop ideas for lead generation & marketing.


To be considered for this role you must be able to demonstrate;

  • Previous experience in a busy target driven sales environment.

  • Previous exposure to marketing and sales administration

  • Knowledge of using all social media platforms and experience maintaining accounts from a business perspective

  • A passionate belief in health food and cooking

  • Excellent communication skills and written and oral grammar

  • Strong attention to detail

  • Due to the company location, access to your own vehicle is essential for a daily commute


In return the company will offer a competitive benefits package, made up of a competitive salary and the opportunity to earn a bonus with OTE, free on-site parking, career development and a friendly positive office environment.

Job Type: Full-time

Competitive salary

Education:

  • Secondary education (required)


License or certification:

  • Drivers licence - a car essential (required)


Please send your CV to kumud@thecookingacademy.co.uk.
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Rhubarb and Blueberry Crumble
As rhubarbs bursts into season we’ve been playing with different recipes all week to create some delicious puddings. By using a number of different ground nut and seed flours – I’ve made this recipe gluten free. The recipe is also vegan providing you use coconut oil not butter in the crumble topping. It is packed with a rhubarb and blueberry jam filling that could be used in any number of ways including a compote or smoothie base.  Whether it is a cheeky breakfast, a mid-morning snack, or a delicious pudding I think you’ll feel suitably smug since it’s also super healthy.

This recipe is nutrient dense, packed with organics whole oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, chia seeds, ground linseeds, ground almonds, and walnuts for texture. To sweeten the crumble mix I’ve used coconut sugar but of course you could also use honey or maple syrup too.  If the fruit is particularly ripe you may not even need the extra sweetness.

Ingredients:

For the rhubarb & blueberry jam

6 large stalks of rhubarb (about 600g)

300g blueberries (frozen are fine)

2 tbsp coconut sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp chia seeds
For the crumble:
150g whole jumbo rolled oats

100g ground almonds

50g coconut flour

50g broken almonds

50g broken walnuts

50g dried cranberries

1 tsp cinnamon powder

¼ tsp nutmeg powder

1 tsp vanilla essence

150g coconut sugar or 5 tbsp honey or maple syrup

120g coconut oil or butter

 

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C

  2. Start by washing the rhubarb stalks and pulling the fibres away (almost like fine ribbons) and discard these, and then slice into 1cm chunks.

  3. Place the rhubarb in a pan with the ground cinnamon and coconut sugar (or any other sweetener of choice). Cook for 4-5 minutes with the lid on and then add the blueberries. Cook once more for another 6-7 minutes until the blueberries are plump and can be squashed with the back of a wooden spoon. The mixture should be hot and bubbling.

  4. Remove from the heat and add the chia seeds, stir well and set aside to allow the chia seeds to soak up most of the liquid from the fruit and for the mixture to cool down.

  5. To make the crumble topping, start by combining the butter or coconut oil in a pan with the coconut sugar or honey, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.

  6. Combine all the dry ingredients for the crumble in a large bowl and when the sugar has dissolved pour into the bowl and mix well. It should have a sticky consistency.

  7. Add the berry and rhubarb mixture into an oven-proof dish and spread evenly over the base. Then sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit mixture and ensure all the fruit is covered.

  8. Place in the oven for 30 minutes until the top has taken on a golden hue. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Turmeric Latte
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This time of year there are a plethora of coughs and colds around. If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, try one of our turmeric lattes. Turmeric is a super food packed with anti-oxidants!  It contains a substance called curcumin which makes turmeric highly antiseptic, anti-bacterial and the anti-cancerous properties.  Turmeric lattes have become increasingly popular with the nation. Not only does turmeric have incredible health benefits, it’s also great for your skin!


Try our super quick ready turmeric latte mix, as always our spices are unperfumed and unadulterated, so you can be sure you’ll be receiving all the benefits this wonderful drink has to offer!

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It's Pancake Day!
Pancakes are all the rage at the moment, from protein pancakes, to the quick and easy two ingredient banana pancakes or even the naughty Nutella ones. Here at The Cooking Academy, we think the classic pancake still has its place.

The classic lemon and sugar toppings are still my favourite. In my version, I add the zest of the lemon into the batter to incorporate the healthiest part of the lemon into the actual recipe. Did you know that the zest of the lemon contains 5-10 times more vitamin C than the juice? Although lemons are known for their high vitamin C content –they also contain; vitamin A, beta carotene, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Of course the lemon peel is often overlooked in cooking and relegated to the bin but in fact it is much more of health rejuvenators in removing toxins from the body.

Once cooked, you can add the brown sugar or honey or maple syrup and lemon juice for a wonderful treat this Pancake Day.

Ingredients

110g plain flour

Pinch of salt

2 large eggs

250ml semi-skimmed milk or any non-dairy milk if you prefer

50g butter

Zest of 1 lemon

To serve:

Brown unrefined sugar or honey or maple syrup

Lemon juice

Lemon wedges

Cooking Instructions:

Start by cutting the butter into five cubes

Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and grate in the lemon zest

Make a well in the flour mixture, add the milk and begin whisking the mixture with a balloon whisk

Now add the eggs and whisk to incorporate all of the ingredients together into a smooth batter, resembling double cream, scraping any residual flour on the sides of the bowl as you go

Now melt one of the cubes of butter in a frying pan making sure the temperature isn’t too high to avoid burning the butter, using a ladle or small cup scoop out 1 ladle of the batter and carefully pour into the frying pan and tilt the pan to evenly distribute the batter all over the pan to make a very thin pancake (the art of making a fine pancake)

Maintain a low to medium heat to avoid the pancake browning too quickly. Don’t worry if the pancakes sticking, it will unstick once it is cooked on the bottom side.

Using a palette knife slowly begin to lift the pancake at the sides to check if it is cooked. When cooked have a go at flipping the pancake, carefully avoiding smacking the ceiling! J Once flipped, cook the other side of the pancake for about a minute and a half or until lightly golden

To serve, sprinkle with brown sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice from the previously zested lemon. Roll and fold however you please and enjoy!

 
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2017: Our year in review
As we look out to 2018 and all the exciting things we have planned for the year ahead, we thought we’d reflect and share with you some of the highlights of last year.
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Overnight Oats
I’m trying to make breakfast really interesting for my family, with two daughters, who swing from really healthy one minute, to doorstep bacon butties the next …..  I’m really challenged when trying to cater for their needs.

We’re done with Bircher muesli for the time being, so I’ve developed another recipe that I think is quite simple, simple being the key word.  It is the same principle as Bircher muesli where you soak the oats overnight.  The new term is ‘Overnight oats’ I believe, basically it’s oats that have been soaked overnight in milk or water.  As they soak overnight they soften, which results in the starches breaking down and their natural phytic acid is greatly reduced.  Thus making them more easily absorbed by your body, and greatly improving their digestibility.

Oats are an obvious choice for breakfast – they are high in magnesium, fibre, plant-based protein, potassium, and they contain absolutely no sugar.  This makes them a true virtue for healthy morning meals and they’re also cheap.

In this recipe I’ve turned my ‘overnight oats’ into a breakfast pudding, a little bit like an Eton mess without the meringue and all the other bits have been substituted with healthy alternatives.

My recipe is designed for lactose and gluten intolerance as we have both in my family, but you could just use the regular oats and milk if preferred.

Ingredients – for the overnight soak

50g gluten free oats

250ml soya or almond milk

½ banana, cut into chunks (I used frozen, ones I’d frozen myself)

1 tbsp ground linseeds (flaxseeds)

Ingredients to add to the oats in the morning

1 tbsp honey – optional

2 tbsp soya yoghurt – or natural organic milk yoghurt

Fruit of your choice

Frozen berries – pureed to form a coulis at the bottom or leave them whole

Mango slices or figs – depending on the season to garnish at the top

Sprinkle of grated almonds or pistachio’s – nuts of your choice

 

Preparation instructions

  1. In a bowl combine the oats, milk, (cows milk or otherwise – it doesn’t make a difference), add the ground linseed and the bananas cut into chunks. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

  2. In the morning stir in the honey if preferred, you may find the sweetness already to your liking. Followed by some yoghurt to loosen the consistency as required.  Set aside.

  3. In the individual serving bowl add the mixed berries, lightly mashed. If they’re a little tart you could add the honey to the fruit instead.

  4. Now spoon the oats mixture over the berries and then add the fruit of choice on top, finish with a garnish of a few nuts.

  5. Leave at room temperature for half an hour, time permitting, or pack into a small tupperware container and pack for breakfast at work or school.

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Parsnip Soup
Did you happen to catch this article about so-called 'ugly' vegetables? In 2015, when we all know how important sustainable living is, about how many children die every year from malnutrition, how can we justify throwing perfectly good food away because it isn't aesthetically pleasing. The poor parsnip, tossed aside for not being all that pretty. This got me thinking about Christmas, too. A time for festivities, family and most importantly food. But while we indulge this month, it is important to not let anything go to waste.

The first time I made this parsnip soup, it was as a result of having nothing else in the house to cook with. Sometimes those are the best dishes we produce. Sweet parsnips make a wonderfully creamy soup without any need for the heavier potato or even cream. With very little effort, the consistency is velvety smooth and makes a fine dish to counter the unhealthier options we enjoy over the Christmas period. I serve this soup with a goat cheese crostini topped with caramelised walnuts. The salty tangy cheese is a great foil to the sweeter parsnip. A brie and fig crostini would also be perfect. Use what you have, keep it simple and you can't go wrong!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium sized onion, finely chopped

500g parsnips (and carrots if desired), cut into chunks

350ml milk

350ml vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat.

  2. Fry the chopped onion until softened but still pale.

  3. Add the parsnips - and carrots if using - to the pan along with the bay leaves, milk and stock.

  4. Let the soup simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the parsnip is very soft.

  5. Remove the bay leaves from the soup. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Taste and season more if necessary.

  6. Blitz the mixture in a blender or using a hand blender until completely smooth and velvety.

  7. Serve the soup with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs if you have some - I had some sage lying around and fried some leaves in salted butter to garnish.


For the crostini, lightly grill one side of your bread until golden at the edges. Turn, drizzle with olive oil and top with the cheese. Grill until bubbling and slightly golden. Top with caramelised walnuts. 
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Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Loaf with Marzipan
For the dough:

  • 375g plain flour

  • 50g granulated sugar

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 55g unsalted butter

  • 80ml milk

  • 60ml water

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


For the Filling:


  • 100g granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 85g unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into small 1/2 cm cubes

  • 100g golden marzipan, grated


For the Glaze:

  • 60g icing sugar

  • 2 tsp milk

  • 1/2 tsp almond extract


 

  1. Add the butter and milk to a small saucepan over medium heat, until melted. Remove from the heat and add the water and vanilla bean paste. Let mixture stand for a few minutes. In the meantime, complete steps 2 and 3.

  2. In a large mixing bowl - or the bowl of a stand mixer - combine 250g (save the rest for later) of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and set aside.

  4. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula (you may also use the dough hook on your stand mixture on a slow setting). Next, add the eggs and stir until incorporated.

  5. Now add the remaining 125g flour and continue to stir for about 2 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky - that's ok.

  6. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with cling film. Let the dough rest in a warm, draft-free place** until it has doubled in size - approximately an hour.

  7. While the dough is rising, you can grease your loaf pan.

  8. Once the dough has completed its rise, add about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough and knead it until it's deflated. Cover with a clean tea towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. (Melt your butter for the filling, if you haven't already)

  9. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 30cm x 50cm. Use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture and top with the mini apple cubes and grated marzipan.

  10. Now for the messy part! Using a pizza cutter, cleanly slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Slice horizontally until you have 36 squares. If you can, lean your loaf pan on so that its standing a little more vertically. This will just allow the apple and marzipan to stay in place as you stack. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You’ll have six stacks of six squares. Stack all the squares on top of each other and set into the prepared loaf pan. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and place it in a warm area for 30 to 45 minutes until almost doubled in size.

  11. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place the loaf pan into the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. If the top is only lightly browned, the centre might still be raw. It needs to be a deep and dark golden brown - it won't taste burned or be dry.

  12. Let the loaf rest for about 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen it. Carefully, turn it out onto a wire rack.

  13. While it cools, prepare your icing: sift the icing sugar and add the liquids. Stir until smooth and glossy. Using a piping bag (or a ziploc bag with the corner just snipped off) ice your loaf. Serve warm.** During the winter, it's often difficult to find a warm place to prove dough. I recommend heating your oven to 100C. Once it has reached that temperature, switch off the oven. Then place your dough inside to prove.

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Eat more fish - Live longer, be sharper!
Fish is one of the healthiest meats available to man.  We should incorporate fish into diets at least 3 times per week; by doing so we can significantly reduce the risk of heart related diseases, lowers the chances of brain degeneration; lowers the chances of getting kidney cancer, depression, lowers blood pressure .  I know many of you are already aware of this but perhaps your biggest challenge is knowing how to buy fish and cook fish to make it interesting and tasty. If that sounds familiar to you, you should get yourself onto a Fish Cookery Class faster than you can say Omega 3 fatty acids.

Why should we eat more fish?

The key component that makes fish so healthy is the fact that fish is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, one of the acids the body cannot make it self. The omega 3 is also essential for fetal brain development and can potential strengthen a baby's brain connections as early as in the womb if you eat plenty of fish during a pregnancy.  If you are unsure about what fish you can eat during a pregnancy check with your local fish mongers.   Fish is also a great source of protein, it is easier to digest than chicken or meat, it is low in saturated fat, yet high in vitamins A, B & D as well as other mineral.

Salmon is probably one of the best fish – it has more Omega 3 fatty acids than most other fish.  Salmon helps your brain develop tissue to increase your brain power. Furthermore, salmon also plays a key role in fighting Alzheimer’s and other age-related cognitive disorders.   There are many different ways of cooking salmon to make the recipes variable and interesting without repeating the same flavours and your fish cookery course will enable you to extend your repertoire.

How to buy fish – what should you look for

When buying fish you need to look out for certain signs of what fresh fish looks like – a comprehensive fish cookery class will also demonstrate what a good piece of fish should both look and smell like and ways to identify healthy skin and texture.

How much fish should we consume

We should consume around 3 x 100g servings of fish per week.  By doing so we stand a much improved chance of good health, strong brain and supple joints.

To reduce the risk of mercury contamination, avoid eating swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel altogether. 

The healthiest fish to eat

Fish really is an ideal protein, and the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks...when you choose the right fish.  Your fish cookery course will also provide a list of recommendations and hopefully provide the recipes to go with it.

Here are the Omega 3 rich fish that I recommend :

  • Salmon

  • Rainbow Trout

  • Mackerel

  • Halibut

  • Tuna

  • Cod

  • Sardines

  • Anchovies


 Difference between Farmed or wild

On the grounds of optimising health I would recommend line caught and wild fish.  Although farmed fish by and large contain the same amount of Omega 3, when it comes to fat and calories farmed fish has more.  Essentially as farmed fish don’t have as much room to swim around they are given anti-biotics to prevent diseases and tend to be dyed to give them a healthy colour.  They are also more likely to have toxins than wild fish, and as with outdoor bred meat wild fish has more flavour than farmed.
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Good Nutrition in the Workplace
Nutritional Cookery Classes for your Employees

Have you ever heard the expression ‘food for thought’ and wondered what it really means? Every organisation concerned with their productivity and profitability should seek out the answer.

Nutritional eating is vital to operating at our optimum levels, whether it is physical, mental or emotional and the link between health and success is increasingly recognised as a key factor in workplace and personal productivity. The mood, energy levels and thought processes at work are created by chemical reactions to our diet in the brain, which will influence how we interact with one another. Feeding the brain with the right balance of nutrition is therefore critical to maximising our output.

Nutrition in the Workplace

With busy lifestyles and work pressures, it isn’t always possible to manage ones nutritional requirements at home, so employers must consider the needs of their professional family in the workplace. The right food and drink choices available to staff will have a dramatic impact on their engagement with colleagues, affecting their mood and concentration throughout their working day. Investing in the nutritional needs of your employees will have a double win, for the individuals and the organisation through their increased productivity. Happy employees create positivity, which transcends to customers and suppliers, thereby enhancing your reputation as an ‘employer of choice’.  This in turn will have significant benefits to the bottom line in staff retention and a reduction in absenteeism.

Nutritional Cookery Programmes

The Cooking Academy offers a wide range of nutritional consultancy to evaluate and inspire change through employee engagement.  Our Corporate Nutritional Programmes and Corporate Cookery teambuilding events are available throughout the UK to educate and inspire busy, working people. We can devise a bespoke solution to suit your requirements, including Executive nutritional coaching, cookery team-building, nutritional cookery classes and workshop-based group events.

Organisations such as Jaguar Landrover have added the full range of cookery classes from The Cooking Academy as part of their Employee Learning Scheme programme for their employees as a means of maximising health and well-being awareness within their business.

RES, a leading wind power provider, have recognised the value of good health in the workplace and the impact of food on employee well being, they were inspired and motivated by the 'Spice Trail Masterclass' at their cookery event, which focused on the health and nutritional benefits of cooking with fresh herbs and spices, and the medicinal values of everyday ingredients.

If you feel that your organisation would benefit from a Nutritional cookery programme or cookery-based team-building event please contact Claire Larkin on 01923 778880 or email Claire@thecookingacademy.co.uk

Recent Client Reviews

“Thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable event that went far beyond my expectations! The feedback I have had from the team has been the most positive I have ever had regarding events that I have arranged. You should be very proud of the event you have created.” Angela Marlowe – RES, August 2015

“Thank YOU for a wonderful evening! Everyone has been raving on about it today and we had so much fun. I'm so glad we could come to you for this event and I'm dying to come back”. Lou Watson – Universal Pictures, November 2015

“The day was great, I loved every minute of it.  We learnt so much more than I expected a lot and we will definitely come back to another class. It was highly motivating, very informative and educational and everything was explained very well.” Natalia Neila – Jaguar Landrover, September 2015

Natalia attended a Advanced Indian class as part of the Jaguar Landrover Employee Learning Scheme where The Cooking Academy is the preferred supplier.

“Thank YOU for a wonderful evening! Everyone has been raving on about it today and we had so much fun.  I'm so glad we could come to you for this event and I'm dying to come back”  We will have no hesitation in recommending you to our colleagues . Lou Watson – Universal Pictures, November 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Saag Paneer
Saag paneer is a North Indian classic combining paneer, an Indian cottage cheese, with fresh spinach. The tender cubes of cheese are complimented perfectly by wholesome and nutrient-dense greens. With 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fibre, no fat or cholesterol and only 7 calories per 30g, spinach provides a great base for any meal. Spinach is also a good source of vitamin K, which helps the body in blood clotting and avoiding excessive bleeding. Just 30g of spinach provides in excess of our daily requirement of vitamin K. Because many of spinach's nutrients, including vitamin C, folate, B vitamins and thiamin, are water soluble, spinach loses a large portion of its nutrients when it is boiled or steamed. For maximum vitamin retention, it is best to cook spinach very quickly. This recipe blanches the leaves, which is a good way to preserve nutritional integrity.

As with most classic dishes, everyone has a favourite way to prepare it. There are many variations of the dish in terms of spicing and cooking methods, and this is my interpretation. I keep it very simple to allow the paneer and spinach to really shine through. Some recipes keep the spinach leaves whole or roughly chopped. I personally prefer blending the spinach down so that it envelopes the cubes of paneer in a delicate gravy.

Serve this curry with warm naan for a sumptuous meal.

Serves 4

500g fresh spinach, washed

3 tbsp ghee, or sunflower oil


1 tsp cumin seeds


1 small onion, chopped


thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced


2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 green chillies, chopped

salt, to taste


250g paneer (available from some supermarkets and Asian grocers), cut into cubes

½-1 tsp garam masala


A dash of double cream




  1. Blanch the spinach leaves in hot water for 10-15 seconds, drain well and place in ice water until all the spinach has cooled. Drain thoroughly.

  2. Using a food processor or blender, reduce the spinach leaves down to a puree. Set aside.

  3. In a non-stick pan over a medium heat, add 1 tbsp ghee (or oil). Line a plate with kitchen paper and place near your stove.  Fry the paneer in the ghee until they turn lightly golden on all sides. This won't take very long. Once golden, transfer to the lined plate and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

  4. Add the rest of the ghee or oil to the pan. Once hot, add the cumin and fry for about 45 seconds until fragrant and sizzling.

  5. Turn down the heat slightly, add the chopped onion and fry for about 5 minutes until soft.

  6. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another minute. Add salt to taste.

  7. Add the pureed spinach to the pan. At this point, you want the mixture to be loose and stir-able, but not overly watery. Add a splash of water to allow it to come to a gentle simmer. I needed 3-4 tbsp. Let the spinach simmer for 3 minutes before adding the paneer cubes, garam masala and the dash of cream.

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Buckwheat Granola
I'm a snacker. There are some people who can eat three solid meals a day and nothing in between. And there are others (myself) who like to graze. Granola is great at breakfast put it is also the ideal snack when you're feeling a mid-afternoon slump. I find shop-bought granola mixes far too sweet for my taste and really do love the satisfaction of making my own at home; it's easy to do and you can experiment with flavours and combinations. I've been known to eat through a jar of homemade granola in just a few days.
I recently updated my recipe for granola by swapping the traditional oats for buckwheat groats. They are a lovely variation especially because buckwheat is lighter and easier to digest than oatmeal. Despite the misleading name, buckwheat is from a totally different botanical family to wheat. In fact, it is more closely related to rhubarb. When cooked, a cup of buckwheat groats offers 23g of protein and 17g of dietary fibre. As a result, buckwheat is a great way to begin your day and eaten for breakfast, can be both satisfying and wholesome. 


The recipe below is a 'carrot cake' style granola, with fresh grated carrot and spices. But ultimately, it's up to you: spice or no spice. You could even want to add a tbsp of cocoa instead of spice for a chocolatey morning treat!

Ingredients:

1 cup buckwheat groats

3/4 cup mixed seeds and nuts

1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil

1-2tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp almond butter (optional)

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 Fahrenheit.

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

  3. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together until the spices and sweeteners are evenly distributed.

  4. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet.

  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven. Stir the granola thoroughly and return to oven for a further 10 minutes.

  6. Switch off oven. Stir again and return to oven to dry out for 10 more minutes.

  7. Let the granola cool thoroughly before storing in an airtight container for up to 10 days.


 

 
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